Tough times never last, but tough people do.
— Robert H. Schuller
Whenever I am feeling a tad sorry for myself during my post-chemo crap week, I know I can always rely on certain friends to snap me out of it. Just now, I had a little moan about how I was feeling to a friend via SMS and she came back immediately with the quote above. Very fitting.
I am not a sooky-la-la.
I am a woman, a mother and a teacher — no time for that sort of garbage. There are lunches to be made, teenagers to chase out the door (always at the last minute before missing the bus), floors to sweep (yeah, ok … that doesn’t happen as often as it should), homework to do for my mentor (sorry … I will get to that), lesson preparation and/or marking to do and blogs to write … where is the time to sit and feel sorry for oneself? Twenty seconds of ‘waa waa’ indulgence is all I can schedule in.
Past experiences during my school years have also toughened me up somewhat. Peers can be malicious (and some teachers can be downright insensitive without realising it). I loved my school years; but there are also aspects best left in the past. Yes, there were tough times, but they’re over now. And in hindsight I have to ask — were they really that bad?
There is a tendency in my personality to build walls and not show the impact the words and actions of others have on my emotions and sense of self. I am not what you would call ‘an open book’ and have been told on various occasions that I am too tough.
By ‘too tough’ I assume the implication is that I don’t allow people in, don’t allow others to ‘help’, or create an exterior that repels the kindness of others. I lock myself in the impenetrable castle of life.
Some of my friends have been accused of being ‘too emotional’. I think accused is an awful word to use here, as if being emotional is a crime, and I hasten to add I am not the one making said accusations. These friends wear their hearts on their sleeves. They worry about what others think and become hurt easily. This is not a bad thing!
In fact, thinking about it, the biggest difference between my ‘too tough’ and my friends’ ‘too emotional’ is in the outward appearance. My friends have these feelings and show them; I have these feelings and don’t show them.
What is ‘too tough’ and what is ‘too emotional’? Should we even use the word ‘too’?
Display of emotion is a subjective thing. There is no such thing as a set ‘too much’ or ‘not enough’. Whatever works for the individual is the right amount. Nobody should have to explain or apologise for their emotion, or lack of it.
Schuller was right when he said tough people last. However, exploration of what it means to be tough is needed.
As a person who shows minimal public emotion, I can affirm this is tough to do. But does it make me tough?
For me, showing your emotion and having to deal with the fallout, both personal and public, requires a greater degree of ‘toughness’.